Insomnia

05/14/2012

I remember when insomnia used to feel odd. Awake when no one else was. Profound silence. Enveloping darkness. My hushed door-closing and tip-toeing attempts at silence for others still sleeping. Now, I am used to it. It has become a common occurrence. My eyes open… look at the clock… read 4:00am. Yet again. Pull housecoat on. Silently slip out for a glass of water. The overweight cat suddenly shadows my heels, hoping our shared nocturnal behaviour will result in a treat (sorry little one, breakfast is still at 6am). Within this silent solitude occasionally I meditate, often I write, sometimes I read. Mostly I wonder why I cannot sleep through the night.

Many people have difficulty sleeping through the night, not just parents who live with newborns interrupting their sleep. What’s especially interesting is that insomnia often occurs at 4am. Google “waking at 4am” to see how widespread this anomaly is. There is the website 4amProject with the aim to gather a collection of photographs from around the world taken at (what they call) the magical time of 4am. They have accumulated over 6000 photos.

Renowned inspirational writer and speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer has firm advice for those who wake at 4:00am: Don’t Go Back To Bed. He urges us night-time wakers to take this time to listen to the still small voice within. He calls us to meditate, to pray. To listen to God. “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. Perhaps there is a reason we are called from those downy dreams: it’s a time intended for prayer. It’s a time of the day so quiet you can hear what God is telling you.

It has been suggested that insomnia is linked with creativity. Here is an intro from Amazon.com about an amazing compilation of poetry written by creative insomniacs throughout time and from all over the globe: “Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems brings together Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Rimbaud, Sappho, Shakespeare and Shelley – great poets on a theme with which each one has been acutely familiar. Lisa Russ Spaar has also unearthed ruminations on the sleepless nights of poets the world over: in a fascinatingly diverse anthology, she has harvested verse from Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Inuit, Vietnamese, Tamil, Yiddish, and Romanian poets, who together present an illuminating display of insomnia’s extraordinary and enduring legacy in widely different cultures through the centuries. As these exquisite poems chart a course from solitude, through anxiety, to epiphany, the reader truly learns what it means to be acquainted with the night.”  ~If interested in more information, view it here on Amazon.com (Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems; compiled by Lisa Russ Spaar, Editor)

I wanted to share, here for you, the namesake for the book’s title by a most favourite poet:

Acquainted with the Night ~ by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.

I have walked out in rain – and back in rain.

I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.

I have passed by the watchman on his beat

And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet


When far away an interrupted cry


Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;

And further still at an unearthly height,

A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.

I have been one acquainted with the night.

Today I have exercised but not too close to bedtime. I have had a nice bath but not too hot. I have calmed my mind of worries by fully releasing it over to a Higher Power. My caffeine consumption has been replaced by green tea in the morning therefore coffee no longer interferes with acquiring my REM-time. I have done what I can to help foster the setting for a solid sleep through the night. Only insomniacs (and parents of young ones) know the powerful longing for 6-solid-hours. Let that be tonight. May I have listened well and heard what I need to hear, that I may sleep through to morning. I wish that for you as well. Good night.

18 responses to Insomnia

  1. 

    Hello Gina 🙂

    Can quite relate to the magic of 4am. When I was doing my graduation, I would study through the night. After 4 would be the time when the sounds of nature would make their presence. But I did not know that it a known phenomenon experienced by many people.

    You have penned a very profound piece!!

    • 

      Thank you so very much! I appreciate your kind words and am delighted you enjoyed it. I look forward to reading what you have penned over at your blog as well. Thanks again, Gina

  2. 

    Lovely post and beautiful poem! Thanks for sharing!

    • 

      It warms my heart that you enjoyed my post and the poem by Robert Frost. Thanks so much for your lovely comment here! It means a lot.

  3. 

    Oh i know the trauma of it and the joy of it too !!! There’s something beautiful about ‘owning’ the calm night and there is this anxiety of ‘am i never going to sleep’ ha ha ha…try changing your side of the bed too…sometimes it helps 🙂 May you sleep well and wake up refreshed and happy !

    • 

      Bless your dear heart for your kind wishes and sweet comment. And you know what? I slept for 7-solid-hours… hooray! Thank you again. Namaste.

  4. 

    Dear Gina,
    that is really interesting to read about the waking at 4am – since years I wished that I would be able to get up at 4 am! Maybe not many people know this, but the best time of the whole day for meditation is between 4-5am. This is the only time of the day where the vibrations of the whole atmosphere are very special and sacred. If these vibrations are taken into our own inner being it is of a tremendous nourishing power that can work wonders in so many different ways! Once – that was actually at a New Years party – I made it through the night until 4am. I still remember this amazing feeling – I sat down shortly before 4am, and suddenly it was as if a switch was turned on and the vibrations changed and became so powerful that I was just “blown away” by it…
    So generally I would say that it is not a bad thing to wake up at 4am. Actually I can imagine that maybe you are very sensitive and therefore you are feeling these energies when they start working.

    But of course we do need our sleep, too. Insomnia is usually created by our second energy center on the right side. If we have to think and plan a lot due to our job or if we are stressed (which is very common nowadays) then this center tends to be overworked and cannot come to rest.
    There are meditation techniques that can help. It helps to have a foot-soak with cold water and a handful of salt in it before going to sleep and meditate while doing that. 10 minutes should work. Putting ice on the liver (right side of the abdomen) is an additional help to balance this center.
    Here is a link to one of my posts where I tried to explain more about this center, including a meditation technique that helps to balance it (this was an article dealing more with anger management, but it affects the same energy center by putting too much pressure on it – so the meditation technique is the same): http://comemeditate.com/2012/02/27/anger-management-angry-and-nothing-there-that-you-can-punch/
    I have not had the problem myself but I knew one lady who came to our meditation program (years ago) and told about it. Next time she came she was totally excited that after her first program she slept through the night like a baby. So I know from first-hand experience that it can really help.
    And by the way – this second right energy center has to do with our creativity, the capability to think and to plan, and it gives the power for action… so it is true that insomnia is in a way linked to creativity… there is so much more that can be said about it but I feel I should not strain your patience by reading all this 🙂
    All the best to all of you and thank you again for sharing your stories and experiences… Angi

    • 

      Angi, dear wise one, there is certainly no strain in reading this treasure you have shared with me, and all my dear readers. I am definitely going to try these tips and somehow I feel instantly that they will help. I agree that waking at 4am may not be such a bad thing and when I see the numbers at 4:00 as I wake, I do feel like God is pulling me out of bed to pray. I am eager to read this post you’ve linked to, and indeed anything you share! This comment is amazing and I am delighted that this wisdom of yours will now be available in the comments with my Insomnia post. Thank you so so much for sharing. I am incredibly grateful to you Angi. Love and Light, Gina

  5. 

    Sorry, just got to reading this today…I love night writing, for me it’s such a brilliant combination of dream and awake. So often, i will even yank myself out of the drifting of near sleep, to write the words and pictures that spin through my mind…hope you found sleep last night ~R

    • 

      Thank you ~R. I found sleep thankfully. And today I’ve worked so hard in the garden I feel sore and happy all over, which bodes well for sleep! I too have occasionally thrown off covers to quickly write out the thoughts swirling that need to be captured before they wisp away into dreams. Thanks for commenting dear writer. Hugs

  6. 

    Hello Callowlea ~ Thank you for including this Insomnia post on your post Writers, Sleep, and Overnights to Avoid. Cheers, Gina

  7. 

    Great post. I didn’t realize so many people would relate to this subject. There’s some interesting replies to you here. I love the darkness of the night, everything about it, the air is different, the energy. I work with animal spirit guides and nature elementals. When I work with the energy of Tiger, it keeps me up all night. And certain nature elementals are more active at different times also. The energy is different deep in the night vs the still dark but early morning hours. (Also daylight energy and early evening sunset hours are different.) I’d once read about this, so I pulled out about 70 poems I’d written. I knew when I’d written each one and the circumstances so I separated them into 4 piles for the different times of day and night I wrote them and sure enough, the tone of the poems were different depending on when they were written. It was a very cool discovery for me.

    • 

      Wow, that is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. I definitely hope to see any of those poems you’d like to share on your blog. Your poetry is beautiful. And that your poems have a different feel depending on the time of day.. I love it. I myself am quite connected with Owl… no wonder I am up when most others are sleeping! Again, as always, bless your dear wise heart for this wonderful comment. It means so much to me.

  8. 

    I love this piece! I have often thought it was important to get up and make use of our sleepless hours, so it was great reading what other people have said about it!

    Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way 🙂